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Household Cleaning Safety Hacks – S2 E11

Cleaning is the gift that keeps on giving because there’s always something more to do. But when you have a baby or toddler in your home, this chore can seem nearly impossible. Add to the equation mop buckets, cleaning chemicals, and other supplies, and before you know it, you could have a safety hazard in the making.

For cleaning hacks and safety tips, host Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez visits with Adam Rodriguez, the manager of the Emergency Medical Services for Children Program at the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services and Trauma System at the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Podcast Resources:
Emergency Medical Services and Trauma System at the Arizona Department of Health Services
Strong Families AZ
Host: Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez
Podcast Credits:

host Host: Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez is the Program Director for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program at the Arizona Department of Health Services. She is married, has two young children, and loves reading (anything except parenting books!) and watching movies and TV. She loves to spend time with her kids (when they aren’t driving her crazy) and celebrating all of their little, and big, accomplishments. Jessica has been in the field of family and child development for over 20 years, working towards normalizing the hard work of parenting and making it easier to ask the hard questions.

host Guest: Adam Rodriguez, Emergency Medical Services for Children Program at the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services and Trauma System at the Arizona Department of Health Services.


[00:00:00] Jessica Stewart Gonzalez: Welcome to the Parenting Brief. I’m your host, Jessica Stewart Gonzalez, an Arizona working mom, and Office Chief for the Office of Children’s Health at the Arizona Department of Health Services. Parenting is a tough job, but it’s also one of the best jobs out there. If you have questions, concerns, or simply on the search for helpful parenting tips, you’ve come to the right place.

[00:00:34] Thank you for tuning in to this episode of the Parenting Brief. As parents, we are often forced to become professional multitaskers, especially when it comes to taking care of the baby and crossing off those routine household chores. But let’s face it, cleaning the house or doing anything with a baby or toddler around is a challenge.

[00:00:54] Everyday household items become a new favorite toy, and every nook and cranny in your house must be explored. [00:01:00] But when cleaning chemicals and mop buckets are out, it’s important to keep your little ones at a safe distance. That’s why today we have some helpful cleaning hacks for multitasking parents, along with tips on how to create a safe home for your children.

[00:01:13] Everything you need to know is up next.

[00:01:20] So with us today is Adam Rodriguez. Adam is the Emergency Medical Services for Children Program Manager at the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services and Trauma System at the Arizona Department of Health Services. Thank you for joining us Adam.

[00:01:35]  Adam Rodriguez: Thanks for having me.

[00:01:37] Jessica Stewart Gonzalez: So, I think we should start by admitting that multitasking on anything with a baby or toddler around is difficult, especially cleaning.

[00:01:45] Is there a general plan of action that parents should consider when preparing to tackle a cleaning job?

[00:01:52]  Adam Rodriguez: Yeah, I think there’s kind of two thought processes behind paying attention to something and, and that’s an active form of doing that and a [00:02:00] passive form of doing that. So ideally what I mean about those two is active would be in this situation anyone else that can you know, look over your child, whether that’s significant other family member, babysitter, what have you. That’s the optimal process to ensuring that, you know, your kiddos safety while you’re cleaning is absolute. Now that’s not always possible and so passive then would be the way to do it and that means you’re using something that well sort of pacifies your child, whatever that might be, if it’s a movie or whatever their favorite form of entertainment is. But with that, a little bit of caution because you are relying on that item or whatever they’d like to fully entertain them and so depending on the age of your kid, it can be, they can be a little bit quickly, they’re more mobile as they get older, and so you have to acknowledge that. You have to say, you know, if I am gonna put on their favorite movie or TV show that you also have do a couple extra things to make sure that that form of paying attention to them is gonna be [00:03:00] adequate.

[00:03:00] And so, for instance, like a low music volume, you know, so you can keep an ear on them so to speak, and so you’re certain that you’re able to hear anything going wrong and then a little bit of forethought before you start cleaning. Knowing where your phone is, knowing where it is specifically with respect to needing to contact emergency services.

[00:03:19] And so there’s a couple things you can do before you even get into it that are just some thought processes to put into place to say, Okay, how can I really do this the best? Cause I, if you’re anything like me and you start cleaning something, you’ll get a little bit involved in it and you kind of shut everything out for a few minutes and you might lose track of where that kid might be.

[00:03:34] And so a little bit of foresight goes a long way, especially knowing where your phone is or whatever means you use to contact emergency services, as well as having some sort of a plan, it gives you a little bit more peace of mind, I think.

[00:03:47] Jessica Stewart Gonzalez: So as we all know, kids are curious and love to get into trouble, even though they don’t always think that’s what they’re doing, they’re just exploring usually, and oftentimes their favorite toys aren’t toys at all, [00:04:00] but everyday household items. Why should parents keep an extra close eye on their kiddos when the cleaning products mop buckets and supplies are out?

[00:04:09]  Adam Rodriguez: Oh sure, I mean, so the method with respect to, cause I think a lot of people use a tote or something like that, or they, they don’t like to go make a thousand trips for each individual item they might need.

[00:04:19] But that is in and of itself, sort of what provides some safety to your children that if you only use one chemical at a time rather than bringing along a a bucket or a tote or whatever you have full of a glass cleaner or a surface cleaner, whatever types of products you use, the idea to use them one at a time and to make those trips is what’s keeping them safe, and what that does is that, well, I mean, if you think about, what the cleaning aisle looks like or what any cleaning products look like on the shelf at the grocery store. If you go to look at washing detergent, they’re super bright colors on those packages, and they’re fun, they’re fun neons, greens. And they attract me and so I don’t, uh, you know, of course they attract [00:05:00] a child, and so when you have that bucket full of bright colors, it makes it a very stimulating item for children. And so naturally they’re drawn to it as I would, and so the other problem this presents is that if the unthinkable does happen, we have a hard time in some cases identifying what exact chemical that your kid may have gotten into or on them, and that makes it all that much more difficult for the medical personnel to deal with it. And so one chemical at a time is a great system, albeit inconvenient to you since you have to do a lot of walking. But one at a time is, in and of itself, and then you know, where you’re storing them is obviously outta reach as well. You would have that somewhere up high or somewhere behind a latch or, or something to that effect.

[00:05:47] Jessica Stewart Gonzalez: And you had talked about the tote of materials, but also when mopping or cleaning things up where you’re using, or even just cleaning the bathroom with the toilet. Can you talk a little bit about that [00:06:00] risk of water in cleaning products and the mop bucket or the toilet or the bathtub when you’re cleaning the bathtub and a drowning hazard?

[00:06:08]  Adam Rodriguez: Oh goodness. Yes, absolutely. When I think, anybody thinks of the word drowning, the picture that immediately comes to mind is a pool, just because it’s the most obvious and a reasonable place of drowning would happened, which is the very thing that fools a lot of victims and victims’ families of these happenings is that they don’t realize that simply a mop bucket with just a couple inches of water as little as two inches of water is enough for a drowning. And so think of all of the possibilities in your home for two inches of standing water to be there, so we’re talking about open toilets. We’re talking about mop buckets or a small basin that you carry around for whatever your shower or tub that you might have filled up for, whatever.

[00:06:51] And so it’s you all of a sudden realize that there’s so many places around your house that maybe if you had the music up a little bit too loud, you wouldn’t have heard what you [00:07:00] otherwise would have with that event unfolding and so, you know, that’s kind of what I’m talking about with keeping an ear on things.

[00:07:06] And so it’s this coupling of a couple of ideas that lead to a successful outcome. But I think it’s the fact it’s so innocuous, who would think you can drown inside the home. But unfortunately, we see it as a service every single day.

[00:07:21] Jessica Stewart Gonzalez: So part of cleaning, I know for me anyway, is not just the cleaning, the mopping, the spraying and all of that, but also includes sometimes those organizational components of cleaning out some bookshelves or furniture or the kids’ dresser with the switching out the clothes for the school year or the season changing. Having those big pieces of furniture like bookshelves and dressers can potentially be a risk as well is that true?

[00:07:48]  Adam Rodriguez: I’m so glad you brought that up. Yeah. It’s becoming a newer problem in terms of that we’re noticing it more often, and I think it really has happened as manufacturers have begun to make things lighter and [00:08:00] lighter.

[00:08:00] The lighter things are, the easier it is to transport and maybe they’re saving money on materials. And as a result, when parents set up these, whatever it might be, a nightstand or a TV stand or maybe a dresser or something like this, well, you have to realize that your child can crawl on that.

[00:08:16] And what we’re noticing is that children are crawling up these things. They’re not as heavy as they used to be and they’re coming over on the child, so much so that, I think I saw something on national news, ABC or something like that, that was talking about a risk in some particular brand of some item that had a high tip over risk.

[00:08:32] And so while you have bookshelves out or while you have your nightstand out or bed frames out, kind of pull on the front of ’em, see how much weight it would take to bring it down the way your toddler would climb up it. And if you’ve determined that it’s a light piece, it’s top heavy, maybe you know for some reason the weight’s distributed weird, take steps against that.

[00:08:52] You could walk into your local Ace and tell them just that I’d like to make sure my, you know, nightstand doesn’t follow over on my kid. And they’ll have exactly what you need there to [00:09:00] do it yourself or maybe a service to do it for you.

[00:09:03] Jessica Stewart Gonzalez: What can parents do and be prepared for in the event when something like this happens? What should they do first? At what point do you call for 911? What are they looking for before seeking that next level of care?

[00:09:19]  Adam Rodriguez: Well, you know the very first thing to do as a parent is realize that something’s happening. And so as a parent you’re usually pretty good at that. I think that’s built into you, even if you’re not a parent.

[00:09:28] I think we can all kind of generally have a look at a pediatric and say, oh, maybe this kid’s not doing okay. And so with respect to the chemicals, poison control, 9-1-1 is perfectly fine if you don’t know your local poison control, you can still call 9-1-1 and they should be able to get you through.

[00:09:46] And that’s a little bit of foresight. If you know that you’re going to be cleaning, you might wanna look up your local poison control number directly, but call the 9-1-1 should never be delayed if you really think that your kiddo is in serious jeopardy. [00:10:00] And really what we’re looking for is really three things, and all I’m doing is putting some labels on what we already know to look for is: is your child acting right? Are they acting correctly? Most of the time when chemicals are ingested, it interacts with the neurology such that you produce some change in their behavior, whatever that might be. They might be hyperactive or they might not be. They might be the opposite.

[00:10:22] Uh, and so, hopefully being able to identify the chemical that that pediatric has gotten into will greatly streamline any service, any follow on services that you need.

[00:10:41] Jessica Stewart Gonzalez: We have more resources on how to create a safe living environment for your kiddos. Just head to the episode show notes. And if you don’t wanna miss out on future episodes, make sure to follow us everywhere you listen to podcasts. While you’re there, you can share this episode with your friends, family, or the expecting parents in your life.

[00:10:59] A few helpful [00:11:00] tips and tricks can go a long way. Until next time, this is Jessica. You’ve got this.

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